Merrillville Community Planetarium
Bringing the Universe to the Merrillville Schools and Northwest Indiana

MCP News

Total Lunar Eclise Rises on Saturday, March 3 as Sun Sets

Weather permitting, observers in Northwest Indiana will be able to observe a total lunar eclipse as the moon rises in the east on the evening of Saturday, March 3. Our next total eclipse of the moon will be as the moon sets on the morning of August 28, 2007.

All Dome Video System makes Debut in Winter 2007 Public Show

After three months of installations and preparation, Merrillville Community Planetarium will debut the $135,000 all-dome video system in our Winter 2007 Public show, "The Winter Sky."

The most often received complaint of our programs was the relatively low number of outlines which were available on the sky. Outlines are stick-drawings that are used to connect the stars to provide a visual representation of the constellation. The previous Spitz projector provided four of these, some of which could not be used during portions of the year. Utilizing the new DigitalSky 2 system from Sky-Skan, Merrillville Planetarium can now display all 88 constellations with overlays and outlines.

Merrillville Schools awards Planetarium upgrade bid

On Tuesday, October 17th, the Merrillville Community School Corporation awarded a contract to Sky-Skan, INC. to install a new digital video system and LED cove lighting.

Planetarium to receive projection/lighting upgrades

During the 1998-99 renovation of Pierce Middle School, Merrillville's Planetarium received minor updates to the theater. The star projector was refurbished, control console upgraded, and a repainted dome. Many of the systems involved in show production and presentation were left unchanged.

On September 19th, 2006 the School Board for the Merrillville Community School Corporation unanimously approved a recommendation by Dr. Mark Sperling, Assistant Superintendent for the Merrillville Schools, to begin the bidding process for an upgrade to the Planetarium.

The Indiana State Planetarium Meeting is March 18th at Carmel Planetarium

The Indiana State Planetarium Meeting will be held on Saturday, March 18th at Carmel Planetarium located in Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana. Keith Turner is the Planetarium Director at Carmel and has organized this year’s meeting. Many people from Merrillville Community Planetarium will be in attendance. Mr. Williams, the Planetarium Director, various faculty, and staff members including 12 to 15 Student Assistants from Pierce Middle School and Merrillville High School will spend the day learning about the latest technology for planetariums and other planetariums in our area.

Planetarium Statistics for 2004-2005 School Year

In the 2004-2005 school year, the Planetarium showed 699 programs. The Sun’s Family, a third grade show, was chosen the most at 54 times. Forty-four different programs were selected throughout the year. The most shows given in one month was 96 shows in May; 74 were for Merrillville classes and 22 were for outside groups. The most popular month for outside groups was April with 90 shows overall; 47 were for outside groups and 37 were for Merrillville classes.

Student Assistant Commutes from Lowell

Russ Brayfield is a 15-year old freshman at Lowell High School and a 2nd year assistant at Merrillville Community Planetarium. Russ moved from Merrillville to Lowell in May, but continues to work in the planetarium. “I love working here!” he says. He attends group and public shows, and comes after school to do various behind-the-scenes jobs. Russ used to live two blocks away, now his mother drives him the long distance from Lowell as often as possible. Next year he’s getting a car so he can come to the planetarium everyday. His parents encourage and support his involvement in the planetarium and promise to help with his gas expenses next year.

Planetarium Represented at the GLPA Conference

Many of the faculty, staff, and student assistants from the planetarium attended the 41st Annual Great Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA) conference held in Grand Rapids, Michigan and hosted by the Public Museum of Grand Rapids. The conference is for planetariums professionals in the Great Lakes area, but people come from all over the world to share new and innovative ideas for planetariums. New technologies, programs, and creative ideas are shared during the 4-day conference through lectures, demonstrations, workshops, and planetarium shows.

Planetarium Chosen for NASA's Space Place Program

Merrillville Community Planetarium has been selected to participate in NASA’s Space Place display program. Space Place has been developed for children and adults to share the space program. In communities all over the country there are planetariums, museums, and libraries participating in the program. A special display board with Space Place borders, and a varying collection of NASA posters, stickers, and lithographs are part of the Space Place. Local news items, astronomy events, children's art, and other information are added to the displays.

New Planetarium Program: Wilbear's Adventure

Wilbear’s Adventure is a new planetarium show for children and will be presented as the Fall Public Show for October 2005. The story is about a young teddy bear who wants to fly. The program includes some mythology, history of flight, and a few winged constellations.

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